Electric vehicle (EV) sales are on the rise: 2 million were sold in 2018; BNEF estimates that, by 2025, this figure will be 10 million.
This growth is aided by countries incentivising the purchase of EVs, for example with purchase premiums (like the recently extended and increased German Umweltbonus) or the French carbon dioxide bonus-malus system established in 2008.
Other EV incentives include:
- usage privileges, for example free parking and bus-lane driving under the German E-Mobility Act (EmoG); and
- tax benefits – there's a full list on the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association website.
Meanwhile, manufacturers are investing billions in e-mobility, and becoming more active in the fields of battery production (eg the Toyota-Panasonic JV) and energy supply (eg VW's Elli subsidiary).
But the focus among legislators and manufacturers is now shifting to EV safety (especially battery fires) and charging infrastructure (eg Ionity)
New EV safety regulations
Manufacturers are keeping a keen eye on how 2018's Global Technical Regulation No.20 on EV safety (GTR 20) is being implemented around the world.
- The UNECE, which is responsible for vehicle technical standards in the EU, Japan, Korea and other important markets, has promised to set new rules based on GTR 20 by 2021. The current UNECE technical framework regarding fire safety (Regulation 34), crash behaviour (Regulations 94 and 95) and the construction of the EV power train (Regulation 100) might be changed or a new regulation issued. Next steps were discussed at the 117th summit of the UNECE Working Party on General Safety Provisions earlier this month.
- Both China and the US are also signatory states to the GTR Agreement and have already implemented some aspects of GTR 20 into national law. The US has, for example, changed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No.305 ('Electric-powered vehicles: electrolyte spillage and electrical shock protection') to meet GTR 20 standards. However, it's not clear whether the US and China intend to implement GTR 20 in full.
- Apart from the GTR and UNECE discussions, the EU is in some cases setting its own strict standards to accelerate safety improvements. A recent example is the acoustic vehicle alerting system, which came into force on 1 July 2019 under EU Regulation No.540/2014. A similar system has recently been made mandatory in the US by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Charging infrastructure promotion
In Germany, the government is planning to spend a total of €3.5bn on the expansion of charging infrastructure (currently under the so-called Förderrichtlinie Ladeinfrastruktur für Elektrofahrzeuge). The plan is that, by 2022, there will be 50,000 public charging points in the country. But with EV sales set to rise, this is just the beginning.
Therefore, apart from large-scale infrastructure built by industry, German legislators have been discussing more privileges for user-owned charging points:
- A proposed new section 554b of the German Civil Code (BGB) would give tenants the right to ask for their landlord's consent to install a charging point. The landlord can refuse only in exceptional circumstances.
- Similar problems can arise in condominiums. The courts disagree as to whether the construction of charging infrastructure is a structural change requiring the consent of all owners concerned. Thus, there has also been a proposed amendment to section 22 of the German Condominium Act (WEG).
Of course all European countries are facing the infrastructure challenge, not just Germany. The question remains: as EVs become more popular, can the regulation and construction of EV infrastructure keep pace with consumer demand?